Friday, April 29, 2016

The Saints of the Lost and Found by T.M. Causey

Today, enjoy a guest post from staff member Lindsey! 

Avery Marie Broussard can see what other people have lost, from car keys to the greatest loss of their lives. Born to con artists, she is used by her parents to make millions over the course of her childhood. After a traumatic event, she finally escapes her hometown -- only to be lured back home by her family, where she is forced to confront the life and love she left so abruptly.

The Saints of the Lost and Found (2016) was utterly gripping. Causey did an amazing job delving into the psyche of someone who is constantly bombarded by the images and the pain of lost things. This is a story where someone’s superhuman abilities come at a heavy cost, and I came to greatly admire Avery’s drive to put herself in danger to help others. Over the course of the book, more and more of Avery’s past comes to light -- both to her and the reader -- making the climax tie in expertly with past and present.

I refuse to tell you any more about this book for fear of spoiling it for you but I will tell you this: I just finished the book and I am going read it again right now. I tore through it so fast the first time that I want to go back and really appreciate the story.

This is a quick read and well worth your time.

Keep reading! Lindsey

Friday, April 22, 2016

Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom

Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House (2016) by Kathleen Grissom is the long-awaited sequel to her 2010 debut, The Kitchen House. I loved the original (read my review here), and am so happy that she continued the story!

Grissom continues to demonstrate a fantastic ability to write characters that you connect with immediately, which was one of the things I was so impressed by in her first book. And in this case specifically, she took a character (James) who was not particularly likeable in The Kitchen House as a child, and gave him such depth that you couldn't help but feel for him in this book. Even though he was anything but perfect, his actions were so understandable and... human... that even if you saw the mistake and its inevitable consequences coming, you get why he did what he did.

Some of the other characters were slightly less understandable -- namely Pan, who made such a wilful, obvious mistake that it was hard to do anything but shake your head at him. But still, he was such an endearing, sincere kid that you felt for him and desperately wanted him to be safe.

And Robert, James's resourceful and unflaggingly loyal butler, was the true hero of the story, swooping in and out with just the right word and idea at key points. I loved his composure and grace, though I liked to imagine that there was a good bit of snark behind that stoic exterior.

This was such a wonderful story, I'm sure this review won't do it justice. Though it started off in a little bit of a disjointed manner, the flashbacks come fairly early on in the book and really provide a complete picture. It was a thrilling page-turner, a heart-pounding look into the Underground Railroad, filled with characters I was truly invested in. You could certainly read it as a stand-alone without much confusion, but I would urge you to read both together -- they are truly worth it! Hopefully the story will continue within the next six years (hint, hint Kathleen...).

Keep reading! Beth

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Currently reading: The Kitchen House sequel

Stay tuned for my review of Glory Over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House later this week. In the meantime, be sure to check out my review of The Kitchen House from last year at this link.

Spoiler alert: Glory Over Everything is great, and really lived up to my expectations based on the first book.

Keep reading! Beth

Monday, April 11, 2016

American Nerd by Benjamin Nugent

American Nerd (2008) by Benjamin Nugent is a quick nonfiction read about the world of 'nerds' (or at least the author’s very specific experiences with it). Comprised of both autobiography and information about different topics, the author mostly used stories from his own life to illustrate many of his points. Which I think was a very good thing – without those anecdotes, the book could have been dry, but as it was, it was a fun read about an interesting topic.

One thing I did find especially interesting was the way in which the author conflated the terms nerd, geek, dork, etc. I am always really fascinated in the ways different people use and think about those terms, and I’ve found that most people who consider themselves one or the other have strong feelings about what each term means (myself included). In Nugent’s case, however, I couldn’t tell that he did – he never really made a strong distinction. Maybe he just lumps them all together and uses nerd as a sort of umbrella term.

I really enjoyed the historical perspective about how not just the term 'nerd' evolved, but also the concept / idea of nerdiness itself evolved – Nugent gets into how nerds became a thing in the first place, which was really compelling. And I did appreciate the connection that people who are obsessed with sports are nerds in their own way; the only difference is the way this obsession is valued in our society. His points about how nerd culture fits in (and at times doesn't fit in) our larger American culture and society were, for me, the best parts of reading this book, and I would recommend it for anyone who considers themselves a geek / nerd – or loves someone who is.

Keep reading! Beth

Monday, April 4, 2016

Outlander series #3: Voyager

Voyager (1994) by Diana Gabaldon is the third book in the Outlander series, also known (to myself as I was reading it) as Outlander: The Pirates of the Caribbean Year.

This was a really wonderful new chapter to the series after the resolution to the Scottish independence storyline from books 1 & 2. This book went in a completely different direction from the previous two, filled with swashbuckling high-seas adventures to go along with all the romance, intrigue, and historical interest. I was very glad of the change of pace, new scenery, and new characters, and for the story to delve into the unknown after following the slightly predictable course of a well-known historical event.

I loved the beginning of this story, when Claire starts exploring the possibility of trying to go back through the stones a third time, and all that entailed in leaving her now-established life behind and going back to the past. I especially liked the planning stages of having period-appropriate clothing made and stocking her supplies -- I often think about things like that myself; if I knew I was going to travel back to a particular time period, what would I bring and how would I prepare?

Though I thought it was a little abrupt how quickly she found Jaime when she went back, their reunion was very sweet and funny. I really liked the sea voyage and their journey around the Caribbean. And I'm glad that they really tied up a particular storyline that I thought had finished in previous books, but was concluded in a very satisfactory way in this book.

Overall, a thrilling continuation that excited me for future books in the series. And for the second season of the TV show, which premiers in a few days! The costumes alone will be gorgeous.

Keep reading! Beth